Anonymity on the Web

August 24th, 2011

You may have noticed some issues with picking pseudonyms if you were an early user of Google .  Social media sites have, traditionally, allowed users to create accounts with fake names. Google’s decision to remove anonymity has had made some users upset. One of the great things about the Internet is that it allows anyone the ability to be anonymous. However, it’s important to consider the pros and cons of cost-free anonymity in an age where more and more social interactions are taking place online.

Pros

    Most account-based websites don’t require users to provide their real name or even utilize effective methods of verifying identity. This practice makes it quite simple to assume multiple personalities on the web. There is a layer of safety in this for many users who might be endangered if they were to reveal their full identity. Consider those who have been victims of stalking or spousal abuse. The ability to act anonymously on the Internet allows users to lower their accessibility and therefore decrease their vulnerability. There are instances in which anonymity on the Internet is a necessity.

Cons

    Most Internet based problems begin with the abuse of anonymity. Spam, social media spam and profile hacks start with the generation of a fake Internet identity. While there are ways of tracking down the true identity of users with methods such as IP tracing, most users don’t have the time or resources to do such extensive background checks. Internet bullying, stalking and thievery are all products of cost-free anonymity.

    Is Google on the right track with disavowing Internet anonymity? The fact is, the moral value of using pseudonyms is based on personal responsibility. When deciding your stance on the issue, first consider how you use it.


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